Another prospect promoted to Houston: Astros calling up Vincent Velasquez

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After averaging 104 losses during the past four seasons the Astros have the most wins in the American League and general manager Jeff Luhnow isn’t messing around.

Baseball’s best prospect, 20-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa, has been called up to Houston to make his MLB tonight and the Astros are calling up another top prospect too.

Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that they’ve promoted 23-year-old right-hander Vincent Velasquez to the majors from Double-A, where he had a 1.37 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Velasquez came into this season with zero experience above Single-A, but is now headed to the majors with all of five starts at Double-A and zero starts at Triple-A. He ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect this spring and joins 21-year-old Lance McCullers in moving into Houston’s rotation without throwing a pitch at Triple-A.

Velasquez will make his MLB debut Wednesday against the White Sox and veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez has been demoted to the bullpen after posting a 5.18 ERA in 11 starts. Houston is ahead of schedule and going for it.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.